CHARLOTTE, NC (WJZY) - Inexperienced yet determined - one Charlotte veteran is preparing to take on the Appalachian Trail in an effort to raise awareness for fellow veterans living with post traumatic stress disorder.
70-year-old Vietnam Veteran Mike Bonfils is preparing for what could be one of his toughest missions.
"I thought gee, I wonder what I can do to try and tie in walking the Appalachian Trail with people suffering from PTSD," Mike said.
That's when Bonfils came across Warrior Expeditions, an organization inspired by Earl Shaffer, the first person to hike the entire length of the Appalachian Trail, and helps vets suffering from PTSD by sending them on long-distance outdoor expeditions all over the United States.
"It seemed like a perfect fit. It seemed like the Appalachian Trail was involved. It was what Earl Shaffer had done. It was something I wanted to do," Mike explained.
So he created his own website, walkingoffthewar.org.
"Just trying to spread the word about PTSD. It's an epidemic. Unfortunately, a lot of people are not aware of it," Mike said.
But in less than three weeks, Mike hopes to change that as he begins as estimated six month hike alone on the Appalachian Trail.
His hope is that with every step he takes on the 2,220 mile journey, he is raising awareness and funds for veterans living day-in and day-out with the haunting realities of PTSD.
"If I can raise awareness and if I can raise some funds, and if I can have some people enjoy what I'm doing, I will consider this thing a success," Mike said.
Donations can be made through Mike's website, walkingoffthewar.org. Every penny raised will be given to Warrior Expeditions, so that more vets are given the opportunity to 'walk off the war'.